Google says it could now take up to four business days to issue a decision on whether you are entitled to a refund. The previous policy wording said you would typically be notified of the refund decision within fifteen minutes of the request. In my experience with Play Store refunds, I always received a response the same day.
Note this does not affect the window you have to request the initial refund — which remains 48 hours. Nor does it necessarily affect how long Google will take to process the refund — that differs depending on the payment method. Full details on that can be found in the “how long refunds take” section of the support page.
This change is only about the time it takes Google to issue a decision on the refund status. Here’s an example to illustrate it:
Under the previous policy, you could request a refund on a Tuesday at 3PM, and Google would usually say whether you would be entitled to the refund by 3:15 PM. The actual refund would then be processed later.
Now, while you still could receive a decision within 15 minutes, it may take much longer. In fact, you could request a refund on Tuesday at 3PM and not receive a decision until the following Monday. And the decision could, of course, be a “no, you are not entitled to a refund.”
What’s behind the move?
Google didn’t formally announce the move so we don’t have a statement about why it happened. I suspect it is about transparency, though.
Perhaps people discovered it took longer than 15 minutes to get a decision, so Google changed the wording to reflect the circumstances more accurately. Or maybe Google downsized or restructured the team working on refund processing and it now happens to takes longer. It could be both.
Whatever the reason, it means your refunds could take longer to arrive, if the decision about them also takes a few days longer. It’s a shame.